Despite becoming one of England’s leading stars in Test cricket, Moeen Ali has remained grounded, and is cherishing the possibility of playing in Division One of the County Championship for Worcestershire in 2015.
Alastair Cook’s new go-to guy for spin recently received a central contract from the ECB, but Ali has admitted he would be “gutted” if he was to miss out on the chance to play for his county side.
The left-handed batsman took 22 Test wickets for England this summer, and averaged over 50 with the bat during the two matches against Sri Lanka. That personal success was bettered with a 3-1 series win over India, which was followed by securing Worcestershire’s
promotion against Surrey last week.
The all-rounder has gradually worked his way into the core of the England Test and limited-overs squads this summer, resulting in him being rewarded with a central contract.
But while that will allow Ali to play cricket at the highest level, it may infringe on his opportunities to represent Worcestershire upon their return to Division One of the County Championship.
This season, the 27-year-old has only played a handful of four-day county fixtures but has been instrumental in England’s return to prominence in the Test arena.
Second innings bowling figures of 6-67 guided Peter Moores’ men to a 266-run win – which incidentally leveled the series at 1-1 – in the Third Test at the Ageas Bowl.
Performances like that earned Ali his first-ever central contract with England. The Worcestershire all-rounder was also joined by Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes in being awarded contracts.
A new generation of England stars came to the fore to lead the Three Lions to a series victory over India, despite trailing 1-0 after the opening two Tests.
And now Ali can enjoy playing international cricket with more certainty surrounding his place in the team. However, he still remains loyal to Worcestershire – his performances for whom provided a platform to audition for the international stage.
Having returned to play for his county in their promotion-clinching tie against Surrey, Ali posted two half-centuries to help his side to a narrow 27-run victory.
In addition to providing those runs, he also took four wickets in the match, proving that he is just as valuable to his county side.
Speaking after promotion was assured, Ali is quoted by the BBC as saying: “If I don’t play at all next year, I will be gutted.
“But I’ll also be happy because it means I’m doing alright for England.
“I love playing for Worcestershire. Since the day I got here, it’s always been homely. It’s something I really love about this place.
“So we will see what happens, it’s a long time away now and I’ve got a busy winter hopefully. But I’ll be preparing to play Division One next year anyway.”
Before Worcestershire play their first match back in Division One, they have the small matter of winning the title, which they can do with a win over Essex at Chelmsford next week.
Meanwhile, Ali also has a busy schedule before he can focus on playing four-day cricket once again. The Birmingham-born spinner is expected to be a regular fixture in England’s 50-over side.
With the World Cup commencing in February, there is a lot of limited-overs cricket to be played over the winter, before Test cricket returns for England fans next April on a tour of the West Indies.
Ali is hoping for the best of both worlds, and that he can thrive for England, and also repay the faith shown in him by Worcestershire with some impressive performances when he is available for them.